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I’d Rather Develop My Own Applications
Date 5/26/2008    Tags Development    (0)

In this day and age, there is a freeware or commercial options available for just about everything you could ever want to do. These often speed up development time considerable or provide an out of the box solution that couldn’t be done by a single developer alone. And yet I hate using them.

When I created this blog, I debated whether or not to use a blog engine like WordPress or to write my own. A boxed solution would ultimately have been more featured than my blog is now and quicker to setup, but I opted instead to create my own. It wasn’t because of any shortcomings on the part of these solutions; I simply like the idea of writing my own code better.

It’s just how I’m wired. I like knowing all the ins and outs of my program and I enjoy the experience of creating them. I learn so much about programming by doing these little projects myself rather than borrowing someone else’s hard work. For several years after college, I couldn’t find a full time programming position (instead settling for a PC Jack of all Trades positions) but these little side projects kept me up to date with my skills and allowed me to get the position I have today as a .Net developer extraordinaire. I’m a lot better programmer now than I would have been had I just settled on installing something someone else made. Plus it’s a lot more satisfying to say that the app is something that you developed rather than something you installed. And it gives you a bigger personal codebase to draw from when programming other applications.

I like the ability to add new functionality to an application when I want to and not being constrained by the developers of the application. On one of my sites, I was running into a problem with spam in the comments section. In an out of the box solution, I would either be limited to the functionality of the program or developed add-ons or be forced to modify the app myself (I’ll speak on the later later). If an add-on suits your purpose, it’s not a big deal, but sometimes you have to compromise the functionality you get. For comment spamming, the typically options are to require the user to register or to have one of those wavy text strings you need to enter before posting. I didn’t want to make something intrusive to the users (such as registering or entering a text string) and instead opted to allow any comments without a link in them (which was all the non-spam stuff) to be posted but any comment with a link it in required administrative approval. Finding an add-on for my app that did this might not be possible.

Modifying the app itself is another option. While this works, often times you spend so much time simply trying to figure out how the app works that it would have been quicker to just develop the app from scratch myself. I took a look at a shopping cart application for one of my friends once that needed some minor modifications. The code written for this shopping cart was some of the most horrific coding I’ve ever seen (written in PHP, which I’m not a huge fan of in the first place). It was pretty obvious that the shopping cart had been in development for some time and new functionality had just been shoehorned into it, probably by people that didn’t fully understand how the app worked in the first place but found it worked and that eventually made it into the main code base. The minor changes that I thought would take me a half hour ended up taking me several hours because of how long it took me to determine how this app worked. As a side note, it makes me cringe knowing that apps like exist and used for handling people’s financial information.

When it comes to bug too, you’re often left only with the option of reporting them and hoping they get fixed. Depending on the app, this could be a quick or slow process, if it gets fixed at all. You can always take it upon yourself to make the changes, but then you are going to get yourself into trouble when new upd


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